File Photo of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley (Photo Credit: ANI)
New Delhi, August 29: Days after resuming charge as Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley has stepped up his government's counter-attack on the controversial Rafale Deal. Jaitley on Wednesday posted 15 questions on the social media and challenged Congress President Rahul Gandhi to answer them in public forum. He also called the Rafale issue a "false campaign by the Congress," in an interview with ANI.
In his Facebook post, Jaitley has lashed out at the Congress for "slow and casual approach of the UPA Government" on Rafale Deal. He said that such an approach "seriously compromised national security requirements." "Every fact that Shri Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party has spoken on pricing and procedure are completely false," he added.
Jaitley has bombarded the Congress and Gandhi with 15 Questions on the issue. Here are the questions:
(1) The UPA was a Government which suffered from a decision- making paralysis. Do you agree that the delay of over one decade was only on account of the incompetence and indecisiveness of the UPA Government?
(2) Did this delay seriously compromise national security? Is not the medium multi-role combat aircraft required by our forces to identify and strike at targets particularly when two of our neighbours have already enhanced their strength in this area?
(3) Was this delay and eventual abatement of the purchase by the UPA based on collateral considerations as had been witnessed in earlier transactions such as the purchase of the 155 mm Bofors gun?
Unsure of facts
(4) How is it that Shri Rahul Gandhi quoted a price of Rs.700 crores per aircraft in Delhi and Karnataka in April and May this year? In Parliament, he reduced it to Rs.520 crore per aircraft, in Raipur he increased it to Rs.540 crores; in Jaipur he used the two figures – Rs.520 crores and Rs.540 crores in the same speech. In Hyderabad, he invented a new price of Rs.526 crores. Truth has only one version, falsehood has many. Are these allegations being made without any familiarity with the facts of the Rafale purchase?
(5) Is Mr. Gandhi or the Congress Party aware of price comparison? Is Mr. Gandhi aware of the aircraft price, which was quoted in 2007 in the L1 bid? Is he aware that there was an escalation clause, which by 2015 when the NDA struck the price deal, would have further escalated the price? Would not the escalation clause have continued to escalate the price till each of the aircraft was supplied? Have the significant exchange rate variations between Rupee and Euro during the same period been considered?
(6) Is he aware of the fact that if the basic aircraft price on which UPA was to purchase the aircraft along with the escalation clause is compared at the price with the better terms on which the NDA Government signed the deal. The basic aircraft price itself is 9% cheaper under the NDA than it was under the UPA?
(7) Can Shri Rahul Gandhi deny that when the add-ons such as India-specific adaptations, weaponry, etc. are installed on the basic aircraft, the UPA price, which was mentioned in the 2007 L1 offer, would be at least 20% costlier than the more favourable price negotiated by the NDA?
(8) Can Shri Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party deny if the total contract cost, that is, basic aircraft plus add-ons, including weaponry, etc., Indian adaptations plus future supplies and maintenance are all added, the NDA terms become far more favourable than the 2007 L1 offer?
Role of private industries
(9) Can Shri Rahul Gandhi and the Congress deny that the Government of India has no contract whatsoever with any private industry in relation with the Rafale aircraft supplies? In fact, 36 of the Rafale aircraft with their Indian adaptations are going to be sent to India and there is no manufacturing of these 36 aircraft in India.
(10) Any Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) under the offset policy of the UPA can select any number of Indian partners, both from the private sector and the public sector, for offset supplies? This has nothing to do with the Government of India and, therefore, any private industry having benefitted from the Government of India is a complete lie. Can Shri Gandhi and his Party deny this?
(11) Are Shri Gandhi and his Party aware of the fact that there are two ways of acquiring a defence equipment, i.e., either by competitive bidding or by an Inter-Governmental Agreement?
(12) Can Mr. Gandhi and his Party deny that the UPA Government in 2007 itself had shortlisted the Rafale as technically- acceptable and L1 in price competition?
(13) Can Shri Gandhi and his Party deny that considering the urgency of the defence requirement, the Government of India and the French Government agreed to execute the supply of 36 Rafale aircraft at terms better than the 2007 offer of the UPA?
(14) Can it be denied that both the Price Negotiation Committee and the Contract Negotiation Committee negotiated for 14 months before concluding the deal?
(15) Can it be denied that before the deal was executed, the Cabinet Committee on Security approved the transaction?
Jaitley has concluded his Facebook post
saying, "I am asking the above questions and I hope Shri Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party would respond immediately."